Common Impact Blog

The Promise of Skills-Based Volunteering

By Lauren Chasanoff | Aug 16, 2017

Article by Danielle Holly and Christine Letts
Illustration by Luke Best

Common Impact is excited to be featured in Stanford Social Innovation Review's Fall 2017 Issue! Since 2000, Common Impact has supported nonprofits in effectively utilizing skills-based volunteering (SBV) to build internal capacity to better serve the community. Our decades of experience have proven that SBV holds great promise for both companies and nonprofits, and represents a sustainable resource for addressing social challenges, complementing philanthropy and volunteerism.

What makes skills-based volunteering different?  A concept we refer to as the knitting factor.

Although traditional corporate philanthropy and volunteerism can create tremendous value, the exchange is often transactional and short-lived. SBV stitches together previously untapped expertise and resources from across sectors to create more meaningful engagements that ultimately strengthen outcomes for both parties.

How do we quantify long-term outcomes? We recently surveyed our nonprofit alumni (thank you to those that participated!) to understand the long-term impact of SBV on the social sector, such as expanded and more effective service delivery, sustained partnerships, and increased revenue.

Key highlights include:  

  • 91% of respondents said that their SBV project impacted their organization's ability to better meet their mission
  • 65% of respondents said that they have continued to use SBV as a capacity building resource after their project with Common Impact 
  • 73% of respondents said that they continued the relationship with the company for which their SBV volunteers worked after the engagement ended

The results of our research demonstrate the stickiness of SBV - when done well.  Still, effective SBV is complex and entails forethought and investment from companies, volunteers, and nonprofits. The most important factor in determining whether a SBV program will succeed is the readiness of the participating company and nonprofit. 

There is enormous potential for SBV to be a game-changing resource for both companies and nonprofits and we are excited to continue exploring how we can best leverage SBV to address our community's most pressing social challenges. 

Read the full article, published in Stanford Social Innovation Review and please join us on Twitter to share with your networks!